Olio Seminar | Words Shape Worlds: The Discourse of Courtrooms

Maureen Matarese at Living Room

Wed, Sep 26 at 7:30 p.m.   |   90 minutes

In this Olio seminar we will examine the language and discourse of courtroom interaction, looking at how that language shapes the jury’s decision.

Why does it matter if a lawyer begins a question with "and" or "so?" What is a presupposition, and why does it matter in court? Who is allowed to tell stories in court, and how does that impact the case? What are prototypical norms, how do they shape jurors' perceptions of the defendant and the plaintiff?

In this Olio, seminar we'll use examples from the Jane Doe v. Brock Turner— Stanford rape case, O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, and the Jodi Arias murder trial to uncover the ways in which language carefully shapes what happens in the courtroom.


September 26: Discourse Analysis in Court

We will learn 5 key concepts in Discourse Analysis and apply them to real courtroom transcripts.


Forensic Linguistics Fieldtrip!

In between the other two sessions, seminar participants will, on their own, attend night court with a homework assignment.


October 10: Forensic Linguistics: A Data Session

The final session will analyze the written notes collected during courtroom observation.


*This Olio Seminar will take meet on September 26th and October 10th in a living room in Prospect Heights and will be BYOB.*

Teacher: Maureen Matarese

Maureen T. Matarese is a professor at BMCC. She has a doctorate from Columbia University and is a linguist with a specialization in discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, and applied linguistics. She is the U.S. expert on social work interaction (particularly in homeless settings) and the discourse of street-level bureaucrats.


Venue: Living Room

What is Think Olio?


Think Olio is here to put the liberation back into the liberal arts.

Classically, the liberal arts, were the education considered essential for a free person to take an active part in civic life. To counter a humanities that has been institutionalized and dehumanized we infuse critical thinking, openness, playfulness, and compassion into our learning experience.

Read more about our mission, our story, and how we are doing this.

Scenius Membership

If Friday night lectures, museum field trips, and living room salons sound like your kind of thing, then you've found your people. We can't wait to welcome you to the Think Olio Scenius. More info


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Liaisons Host an Olio

Olio: A miscellaneous collection of art and literature.